Anger erupts over Jerusalem move
MIDDLE EAST: United States President Donald Trump says he is casting aside the ‘‘failed strategies of the past’’ by upending 70 years of US foreign policy and forging ahead with his controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The president’s announcement has been celebrated by Israel but met with fury from Palestinians, who accuse him of destroying any hope of a peace deal.
‘‘We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,’’ Trump said. ‘‘It is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.’’
Defying warnings from world leaders, Trump said he ‘‘judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the US and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians’’.
He said the US would become the only country in the world to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, making good on a campaign promise important to many American evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters.
The Palestinians insist that there can be no peace deal unless they are able to have East Jerusalem as the capital of their own independent state. They say Trump’s unilateral move has disqualified the US as peace broker.
‘‘These condemned and unacceptable measures are a deliberate undermining of all efforts exerted to achieve peace, and represent a declaration of the United States’ withdrawal from undertaking the role it has played over the past decades in sponsoring the peace process,’’ said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, accused Trump of ‘‘flagrant aggression’’ and called for Muslims across the Middle East to rise up against US interests. US embassies across the Middle East have bolstered their security arrangements in anticipation of potentially violent protests.
The decision was hailed by Israel, and Jerusalem’s mayor ordered the US flag to be projected on the walls of the Old City in celebration.
‘‘This is a historic day,’’ said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ‘‘We are profoundly grateful to the president for his courageous and just decision.’’
Trump tried to placate Palestinian anger by saying his decision did not rule out the possibility of a two-state solution, where Jerusalem would be the capital of both Israel and an independent Palestinian state.
‘‘We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested issues,’’ he said. ‘‘The US would support a twostate solution if agreed to by both sides.’’ He called ‘‘for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail’’.
British Prime Theresa May was among world leaders who expressed concern about the US move. ‘‘We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace,’’ she said.
Pope Francis said he had ‘‘deep concern’’ about the situation in Jerusalem, and urged Trump not to go ahead with the move.
Reaction was muted from most of America’s Arab allies, many of whom have either official or covert relationships with Israel.
But reaction was fierce from Turkey. Deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag warned that Trump was ‘‘plunging the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight’’. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a summit of Muslim leaders next week in Istanbul.
People in the West Bank town of Ramallah protest US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.